Keep on Keeping On

Remember this saying? I had a high school friend who would use this phrase as his good bye. Maybe it annoyed me just a little bit because I didn’t understand his meaning. He played guitar and was into soul music, and we all thought him to be a cool guy. So he wasn’t asked what was meant by it.

Another saying from that era, much more annoying, was “Keep on Truckin'”. What, exactly, is it I’m supposed to keep doing now? How does one “truck”? Again, no one asked that question, and we tolerated the popular tee shirt with the cartoonish guy with the big shoes.

This blog post returns to the Bible Sampler Quilt project, although I don’t have a block to share with you. The book of Jeremiah isn’t used in the quilt, but I want to talk about it anyways.

Still thinking about my high-school-aged self, I remember having a hard time synthesizing the punishing Old Testament God and the loving New Testament God as one and the same. When I started reading the Bible earnestly as a teen, I found myself avoiding the Old Testament books of the law, and focusing on the good news of the gospels instead.

This time, my reading through ALL of the words of the Bible is an altogether different experience. I didn’t catch it in my youth, but in the midst of the bad news, there is also good news. In the midst of judgment and condemnation, there are glimpses of hope and salvation.

The book of Jeremiah begins with the setting, which establishes that he was a real person from a certain time and place. The very fact that God listed the names of the reigning kings to inform us of the time period is our first glimpse of hope. (The kings were Josiah and Jehoiakim, and God’s people knew that their savior would come from the lineage of David.)

Bad News: The Israelites were behaving extremely badly. Therefore, God would punish them and they’d be taken away into captivity by Babylonia.

Good News: Babylonians didn’t kill when they conquered, rather, they enslaved. So Israelite kings would live, which means the lineage of Christ could continue.

Bad news: The captives were struggling to keep their chins up during their exile. It was hard to try and remember their special identity as God’s chosen people, citizens of His promised land, while stuck in Babylon year after year after year.

Good news: Halfway through the book, in chapter 29, God lets His children know that He will bring them back to the promised land after seventy years time. He promises to restore the fortunes of His people. He basically tells them to “keep on keeping on”:

Jeremiah 29:4 – thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. To all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon; Build houses and live in them, and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.

The Israelites heard this and probably thought: You mean I’m just supposed to simmer down, settle in, be kind, and get on with everyday living? I can do that.

Aha, so that’s what it means! This new decade will see my fiftieth high school reunion, and I finally understand how to keep on keeping on.

And think about it, having all those babies means that there will be a plentiful population when it finally comes time for them to pack up and move back home to Israel.

Aha! That will be when we share an encouraging word, like: “Keep on Truckin'”

I get it now.

A blogpost would not be complete without a photo, so I’ll share this “One year ago” email I received from Google today.

Aren’t they lovely? Both taken by my husband in our back yard, catching God’s perfect artistry. Both also show evidence of the neverending state of our fixer-upper life. One year later, the ladders and shovels are still being put to use somewhere else around the house. We’ll just keep on keeping on.

February Finish

Good Fortune – Bonnie Hunter Mystery 2019

Flu season continues, in that I mean the sewing strain of Finishupitis. I don’t do resolutions, goals, or a word for the year. But I’ve been thinking that I’d like to follow a theme for 2020: Finish it.

I know it’s a reasonable plan because I know myself. My favorite part of the creative process is the middle part. There’s the planning on the front end, and the finishing at the back end. I don’t like to see things end, so I get to the point where I’m about 95% done, then I move on to the next project. I want to keep it alive because – Who knows? Maybe I’ll add or change something as my subconscious does its creative ruminating behind the scene. Maybe, given time, my skillset will suddenly improve, so the free motion quilting I dream of will actually be executed to my satisfaction. Whatever the reason, I want to push myself out of this habit and complete one project per month.

It’ll be easy to fine twelve projects around here, and besides, I’ve already taken care of the first two months. I sewed up a needlepointed pillow top in January, and now I show you my February finish. This Good Fortune was done and bound a year ago. All it needed was to have the threads pulled in, a general clean up, and hand stitching the quilted areas where the needle skipped and the thread traveled too far. This quilt was sitting at 99% done for a year. Finishing it up took less than two hours.

How are your projects progressing? Your words of the year, your resolutions? I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. The reading of the Bible for the Bible Sampler Quilt project continues, in case you were wondering. I am deep in the book of Jeremiah. It’s not a reading to be rushed, so thanks for your patience.

A Bit of a Natter

This is a phrase I picked up while attending Capernwray Bible School in England’s Lake District. It’s a lovely way to say that you’re enjoying a friendly chat. We don’t get to use this phrase here, but it popped into my head when I considered how to share these photos with you:

Eleanor Burns and I chatted about the “old days” when she taught classes through the Parks and Rec department. My mom and her friends attended those classes, and brought me into the world of rotary cutters, mats, and stripping in the nineties.

Jenny Doan and I nattered about our hands, our rings, our nails . . . Your basic girl talk.

And last but not least, the Quilting Cowboy and I had a chat about his Instagram presence. I had a story about that, which gave him a laugh.

People who have met them always say that the quilt world “celebrities” are just as down-to-earth and nice in real life. I’ll add my voice to that truth right here. They really, really are.

Want to see some quilts from the Road to California Quilt Show? Here we go.

These mandala quilts almost looked like the same pattern, different fabrics.

I bought a raffle ticket for this Dear Jane made by the guild near me.

I walked right by this one. My friend asked if I had seen the quilt with all the flying geese, so I had to go back for a second look:

From about nine inches away – there they are!

Fascinating.

Angela Petrocelli, I’d love to have a natter with you.

Flu Season

Let me begin by stating that I make no apologies for my cast iron, army tank-like immune system. It came to me hard-earned; built up over the years from a lifetime vocation of teaching small children. I have been sneezed upon, dripped upon, and goobered upon for an entire generation. I’ve been fully exposed to every strain of bacteria and virus that has swirled about me for forty years. Mind you, I suffered horribly from every bug that came near me for the first few years of my career, but then the unexpected happened. I didn’t get sick anymore. In fact, I haven’t had a “cold”, or “flu”, or any type of weird infection for as long as I can remember. I’m not even gonna knock on wood right now. Teachers have their “perks”, you know.

But before you form an unfavorable opinion of me due to my annoying hubris regarding this subject, I will confess to you that I am now suffering a form of my own flu in this season.

I have a case of “Finish-up-itis”, which is in direct conflict with my predisposition for recurring bouts of “Start-itis”.

Maybe I caught it from others who are gung-ho about setting New Year’s goals of finishing up their UFO’s. Maybe it caught me when my resistance was low due to the nature of this blog. After all, my focus is to share the quilt blocks that accompany the Bible as I read through it page by page. But I’m at the point where I need to read through the rest of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, ALL the minor prophets, and a large portion of the gospels, before I can share my progress on the next Bible Sampler quilt block. But I still want to blog, and share photos with you, so the perfect solution is to veer off in another direction while I read the books of the Bible behind the scenes.

So, here’s a post for you, my first finish of 2020. I took the oldest UFO I had lying around, and brought it to completion.

This needlepoint pillow top was stitched in the 70’s. I was in college. I noticed a sorority sister, an art major, stitching away during our Monday night meetings, and soon I was joining her. I remember buying the wool yarn and the canvas excitedly, and her sharing her pattern with me so generously. So fun. But I didn’t know how to turn the finished canvas into a pillow top, so it got stowed away. It’s a miracle the moths didn’t eat it up after all this time.

I still don’t know how to make needlepointed canvas into a pillow, but with my “finish-upitis”, I was in a fever to find a way. So I found some fabric that matched (it looks better in real life) and now I call it DONE.

Now I’m off to find my next oldest UFO; let’s hope this “flu” lasts long enough for me to complete some more unfinished projects, and read through those books of the Bible as well.

65. Twelfth Night

Star of the East quilt block

The next block in the Bible Sampler quilt takes us with the wise men, traveling from the East to Jerusalem, to check in with King Herod. Surely he will know the whereabouts of this new king of the Jews?

Herod was clueless. His chief priests and scribes got him up to speed with the details, after which he tried to thwart God and His plan to save.

Our church follows the traditional Christian calendar, which means that today, January 6th, is the feast of Epiphany. “Epiphany” translates as “revelation”, or “uncovering”. The fact that wise men took on the time and expense of a major expedition, with only a single star to lead the way, shows the importance of this event that occurred in Bethlehem. It’s the first hint (politically) that there’s something epic about this humble birth in a manger stall.

By the way, I just love it that, before the wise men, it was shepherds, (the non-political rung of society), who got to be first to see their God in the flesh. The angels appeared to them with the news long before any bigwigs arrived. I’m so grateful that God shows us again and again how much He truly cares for the “least of these”.

So we celebrate this day by taking down our Christmas. Yep, the season is officially over. I thought I’d show you some of the sew-y stuff that adorns our tree before it all gets boxed up and put away.

My mom made this. She labeled it, so I know it was made in 1997. She is the reason I got into quilting.

These are thrift store rescues. Someone’s mom made these, and I appreciate them.

I made this one, along with dozens more for ornament exchange parties.

,

These last two are my absolute favorite. Made in Sunday School by my boys years ago, the wood and straw say it all. They are enough to make a beautiful ornament. Jesus came, and that is enough. He is enough.

Watchwords

My random observation while washing my hair and contemplating whether to wear the Fitbit today or not. . .

Parenting Then and Now:

My parents: “Now you listen to me. This is what you will do . . .”

My (boomers) generation’s response: “Don’t trust anyone over thirty. Question Everything. You’re not the boss of me. I can’t wait to grow up, go big, and go leave home.”

My generation’s turn to parent our own children: “I want you to decide, sweetheart. Whatever you want and feel about it is the right thing for you.”

My children’s generation’s (Y and Z) response: “Please tell me what to do.”

I’ve been thinking about a casual conversation I had with my youngest son over the holidays. My husband was pleased that I had gotten him a Fitbit for Christmas. I already had one, and my idea was that this investment in our health would add motivation to our personal fitness goals. I also knew that I rarely wore mine, and when I did, I ignored its cheery prompts to get up and move. So my son and I were discussing the impact that these technological devices had on behavior. My stance was: Very little. His: A lot.

The reason? He explained that my generation grew up without “technology” so to speak. We were free to roam the neighborhoods, filled with other kids who were also roaming around, until the street lights came on. We’d ride bikes, roller skate, make clubs, and build forts. If there were enough of us, we’d gather players to make up a ball game in our cul-de-sac. We’d choose captains, choose sides, and play fair with no adults in sight. That’s a lot of decision making.

His generation (Gen Z) grew up with personal handheld computer-y devices. They think nothing of being attached to an inanimate object, whereas I am chronically looking for my phone that I set down somewhere in the house hours ago. (“Honey, will you please dial my phone?”)

His generation is accustomed to using handheld devices in all aspects of their lives. They know how to use these tools very well, and slowly, I might add sneakily, these tools have made themselves indispensable to his generation.

I used to memorize important phone numbers, and look up addresses in the phone book. I used to wrangle with foldout maps. I looked to myself to navigate and direct my day. My son’s generation lets devices do that decision making for them. For that reason, he says things like Fitbits have a great influence on behavior. If it suggests that they stop, drop, and do twenty pushups, then they will stop, drop, and do twenty pushups.

Me? I’ll keep on sewing.

Playing around with Clue #6 of Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery – “Frolic”

64. Good Tidings

Paths to Peace

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Happy Jesus’ birthday!